- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On November 10, 2014
- 0 Comments
Each year since 2007, I have been able to cast my vote in Major League Soccer’s end of season awards as a media participant. I figure today is a good day to share with you all who I voted for and some of the reasons why.
In the voting process, you get to place two names on the form, the winner and a runner-up.
So here we go.
Coach of the Year – Ben Olsen (D.C. United)
This one was a big struggle for me. I wanted in my heart to go with Oscar Pareja based on what I saw all year in Dallas with that squad but in the end picking a team that literally went from worst (one of the all-time worst I might add) to first (in the conference). The turnaround Olsen did this year with that team was partly due to the smart additions but also due to the fact that Olsen didn’t do a lot of stupid things with his lineup. He knew what worked and what didn’t and the team reaped the benefits of that.
Runner up: Oscar Pareja (FC Dallas)
Newcomer of the Year – Pedro Morales (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Maybe it was because I saw him a lot in the final three months of the season against Dallas but each time against other teams he was always a guy that stood out for me. More so than anyone else on the Whitecaps team, he was probably one of the biggest reasons why they made the playoffs and were a team that gave Seattle a lot of issues.
Runner up: Stefan Ishizaki (LA)
Rookie of the Year – Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas)
I know this will sound like a homer pick since I am in Dallas covering FCD but I did do a lot of studying on the other worthy candidates (Harry Shipp and Steve Birnbaum). At the end of the day it wasn’t about the stats for me. It was the level of improvement from the start of the year until the end of the year, which I felt Akindele did the most. Lets also be honest for a moment too and state just how weak this class really ended up being too. The list of candidates did not impress most of the year and part of that was due to so many of them being on loan in the USL or being in situations as backups. Shipp had a solid year too, I won’t shy away from that. He made a really bad Chicago team better in some moments of the season but in large part, I never felt his game improved from July-on. Teams figured him out for what he was and he hit the wall in the summer and never truly bounced back. Birnbaum on the other had grew well into a starter once Jeff Parke went down. I do in a way regret not giving him my second place vote.
Runner up: Harry Shipp (Chicago Fire)
Goalkeeper of the Year – Bill Hamid (D.C. United)
This was a tough choice as it really was a 1a and 1b situation for me. In the end it came down to a guy that helped push his team more than the other and one that came up with a lot of good saves over the course of a season. David Oustad had a great season, leading the league in shutouts but he also has a really good defense in front of him too. I think Hamid just did a little more with a little less in front of him.
Runner up – David Oustad (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Comeback player of the Year – Victor Ulloa (FC Dallas)
Another thing I should point out, I hate this award. But the league continues to use it so whatever. This time I did go homer with my pick though I really do feel like Ulloa’s story was one of the best and possibly most overlooked stories in the league this year. He went from being a castaway Homegrown to being a depth piece to full time starter that has now played in 30-some straight games for Dallas. Just remarkable the consistency he brings to the field each and every day. Not to mention, he is a good kid too.
Runner up: Stefan Frei (Seattle)
Defender of the Year – Matt Hedges (FC Dallas)
Take one quick look at the first leg between Dallas and Seattle and don’t come away impressed with Hedges. Trust me, it will be hard not to. I know it sounds homerish but Hedges really is one of the better center backs in the league right now and possibly in the country. He continues to grow as a player and as a leader on the field for Dallas too. Sure guys like Omar Gonzalez and Chad Marshall had solid seasons but consider the fact that Hedges basically had a new partner at centerback every three or four games due to injuries or suspension and see the turnaround FCD had this year. Its just damn impressive. Its not all about stats in these awards, I just hope people would understand that.
Runner up: Bobby Boswell (D.C. United)
MLS Most Valuable Player – Obafemi Martins (Seattle)
Boy I really went back and forth on this one. But at the end of the day, Martins just continued to make the most logical sense to me for this award. The Sounders just don’t lose when he scores. While Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, Thierry Henry, and Lee Nguyen all had fine seasons, I just continued to be more impressed with Martins each and every week.
Runner up: Robbie Keane (LA)
MLS Best XI:
Goalkeeper: Bill Hamid
Defenders: Chad Marshall, Matt Hedges, Bobby Boswell
Midfielders: Lee Nguyen, Landon Donovan, Pedro Morales, Clint Dempsey
Forwards: Bradley Wright-Phillips, Obafemi Martins, Robbie Keane
Note: Not sure how but I wrote in Dempsey as a midfielder and not a forward. I’ve never been a fan of how the Best XI voting goes anyways. Feel free to laugh at the four forwards being voted on here.